It’s easy to start a blog. Anyone can do it. So easy, in fact, that I’ve started no less than 37 different blogs over the past 14 years. Yes, you read that right. THIRTY SEVEN. To give that number context, every year I rediscover at least one blog I had completely forgotten.
I don’t share this to brag. That would be weird. Failing to stick with a SINGLE BLOG is my greatest professional regret.
It doesn’t take a special sort of person or a remarkable skillset to START a blog. You can learn how to do it in a few hours.
But only half of one percent of people do what it takes to sustain a blog over the years AND to make it financially PROFITABLE. My wife is a perfect example. While I was having an identity crisis with my 37 blog niches, Heather focused on the only one I set up for her and she never looked back.
Today, that blog is our family business. We both work tirelessly to make it better and to develop new articles.
I found the PERFECT medium from which to engage with the world, but I wasn’t ready.
No matter what we do, whether it’s choosing a career path, writing a book, starting a blog, or going back to school, it all starts with “WHY”. I credit Simon Sinek with influencing an entire generation with his seminal book, Start With WHY: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action.
STEP One: What Is Your WHY?
If you’re a blogger, you must have had some reason for getting started. Maybe your ideas are just really interesting. Maybe your hot sports opinion destroys the famous national media guy making $8M a year. Maybe you’re a subject matter expert. Maybe you want to influence change in society. Maybe you want to entertain.
Whatever the case, you need to plug into your WHY in order for your blog / art to hook people’s interest. There are billions of voices in the world, and limited attention span to notice them.
This Instagram meme below from goal.cast spoke to me today. It felt like a command from heaven, demanding that I pause and evaluate what it is I’m doing here.
I knew I had to identify a problem and solve it. Or at least offer insights into how to solve it. What is the purpose of publishing my ideas and stories on this site? Let’s start with the step one…
Identify the problem
Everywhere I go, I witness people having incomplete experiences with each other. One person speaks and the other hears something different. One person assumes they said enough while the other is left guessing to fill in the blanks. And yet, most people don’t ask clarifying questions!
This infuriates me. The problem is that people fail to understand each other, and they don’t realize how easy it would be to improve.
This is a self-awareness problem. It takes practiced skill to pause in the moment when things are going wrong and to analyze the situation. Picture the famous Matrix scene where bullets are flying at Neo. He raises his hand and the bullets all freeze mid-air.
If you could pause mid-conversation as soon as bullets start flying, or as soon as you notice the convo has gone off-the-rails, you could ask a few questions and change course:
* What turned this conversation in the wrong direction?
* Did I say something inflammatory? Was my tone accusatory? Was I dismissive or self-important?
* I’m losing this person by trying to win this argument. Is it REALLY worth dying on this hill?
* Can I reverse course and try a new tactic mid-conversation to avoid larger misunderstandings after?
Do you realize how many problems you’ve had in your life because of failed communication? Where either you didn’t speak with precision or you assumed you understood someone else and it all went to hell in a handbasket? How could anyone be okay with this?
Why does anyone walk away from a job or marriage or partnership or friendship when the obvious answer was to clarify what each person needs?
I found my problem.
There’s a point at which each of us fails to communicate clearly. That failure, if unchecked, leads to every possible problem. I would rather be precise and known than lazy and “cool”.
I’ve got my work cut out for me. There’s a chip on my shoulder and I want to help everyone I meet to learn how to avoid all the pain, trouble, and heartache that results from misunderstandings.
What’s the problem that bothers YOU so much you’re ready to do something about it?
Once you know the answer to that question, what’s the next step? What can you ACTUALLY do about it? I’m going bring you along with me as I look into mine. Hopefully, you’ll find a nugget of truth or inspiration from it.
Why do people give up trying to understand so quickly?
I think it starts in grade school. Remember the cool kids? They always sit in the back of the room and never ask a single clarifying question. Any time the teacher asks if there are questions about the assignment, these kids never raise their hands. If asked directly, they nod and say they get it.
And yet… Their work consistently earns Cs, Ds, and Fs. Many of the cool kids only pass their classes by copying off the smart / uncool kids in class.
What makes a child “cool” and popular in school? Part of it is looks, and part is probably family wealth or accomplishments. But the biggest component I’ve noticed is the perception of confidence.
“Fake it til you make it” wasn’t invented by entrepreneurs. It was invented by school kids, who were so scared of looking weak or stupid that they never asked questions, even when they had NO IDEA what the teacher was talking about.
It doesn’t stop with high school graduation, though. This failure to understand others becomes a pattern, then a habit, then a lifestyle. Now imagine an adult working for the city or a demanding boss, and never asking a qualifying question. New employee training is a fail because whatever wasn’t explained well is never brought up, so the employee learns to do the work the wrong way and passes that on to the next new employee. Processes break down in the company because the boss doesn’t understand why standards aren’t being kept and goals aren’t being met. So they fire their poorest performers and move on.
And the cycle continues at the next job. And the next relationship.
Ineffective communication leads to misunderstanding, confusion, irritation, anger, conflict, and all too often, separation.
Imagine what we could achieve if we clearly understood what each other is saying!
STEP TWO: WHAT IS THE SOLUTION
Fixing ALL MISUNDERSTANDINGS EVERYWHERE won’t be easy.You might say it’s an impossible dream. I’m not pretending to have that kind of power.
But just because something seems impossible to overcome doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Remember that cliche: BE THE CHANGE.
Next STEP: “HOW To”
I have a plan to do my part to demonstrate simple communication skills that influence others to grasp that more is possible. Here are a few ways I’ll do this:
- Tell my story – We learn more from lessons embedded within story than from direct non-fiction lifestyle teaching. We see a truth demonstrated and it gives us a picture and a context for how to live out the truth the same way.
- Highlight common problems – Change starts with recognition. Only by highlighting what’s broken can we ever hope to fix it.
- Interact with you wherever possible – Whenever you leave a comment or fill out the contact form, we’re going to interact with each other. That means we have the opportunity to practice what’s being said with each other in real time.
Your life is your laboratory. Find a problem that matters to you. Look for the cause of the problem. Strategize a plan to fix or avoid the problem. Test it out in one small area.
I hope you’ll drop me a note in the comments or through the Contact link at the top of the page. I want to hear what problem you care about enough to take action!